Film firsts (Re: film-within-a-film)

From: David P. Hayes
Newsgroups: rec.arts.movies.past-films,alt.movies.silent
Date: Wednesday, March 11, 1998 9:20 AM

Marvin Jones wrote in message
<990760BFABD0D8BE.CB0727E2D8D854BF.2816494509407F25@librar t>…
>>>Steven H. Gale wrote:
>>>> Can you tell me what the first movie was that featured a
>>>> film-within-a-film? Title? Date?
>It's been my experience that NOTHING was ever done for the FIRST time
>in movies. No matter how early an example you can find, there's always
>an earlier one!

Sometimes there can be no debate. Vast contemporary publicity makes clear that the first feature-length film with synchronized speech was "The Jazz Singer." You might have meant that NOTHING that goes unpublicized can ever be (certain of having been) first, yet that's not so, either.

If the question was: What was the first occurrence in a feature film of lip-synching?, there's an unassailable answer:

The first occurrence in a feature film of lip-synching was the first non-credits moment--period--of a feature film to have synchronized speech! Yep, the opening scene of "The Jazz Singer." No, it wasn't Jolson. Rather, the actor playing the Cantor who is Jolson's father, Warner Oland, couldn't sing but was otherwise the right actor for the part, so he mouthed the sacred Jewish lyrics that were being sung by the actual singer out of camera range.

Of course, it does happen that one film does get tagged with "firsts" that it doesn't deserve. Check out my post from earlier this week on "Citizen Kane borrowings: techniques attributed… ."

David Hayes


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